Anne Middleton, Class of 1984

Anne produced the stunning painting of Australian actor, Guy Pearce that won her the 2018 Archibald People’s Choice Award.

It was his eyes that captivated College old scholar and oil painter, Anne Middleton. They told a story without words and inspired her first ever portrait and competition entry. Her intuition paid off, after three sittings and ten weeks, Anne produced the stunning painting of Australian actor, Guy Pearce that won her the 2018 Archibald People’s Choice Award.

Understandably the response to the portrait and the prize has generated significant local and international interest. We join the international community in congratulating Anne on this incredible achievement and welcome the news that she is now looking for her next portrait subject. 

Anne, an artist of 30 years’ experience, has gifted us with an incredible body of work to engage, inspire and thrill us. Take, for example, her signature piece, Gates of Paradise, which she has been working on for the past decade. The more than 80 botanically themed paintings of enormous scale that lock together to tell a composite story, immerse us in the detail of all that’s familiar to us – birds, blossoms, dragonflies, bees and fruit. You are immediately drawn into Anne’s capacity for close analysis, for an appreciation of the minutiae. Visiting her online gallery at will give you an insight into this artist’s rare gift.

Anne was always inspired by nature, the verdant life that surrounded her as a child growing up in the Dandenongs. She now works from the studio in Albert Park she inherited from her father, artist Max Middleton. Although Max never taught her formally, he was certainly influential in the development of her artistic style. An arts degree at the University of Melbourne further developed her technical knowledge, as did the opportunity to study fresco painting at Il Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainella near Florence as the first Australian recipient of a fellowship from the Bogliasco Foundation outside Genoa, Italy.

Anne acknowledges that many teachers positively influenced her formation throughout her primary, secondary and tertiary schooling. One experience at Luther, however, stands out for her. It involves a lesson learned through essay writing in Australian History. When Anne received a low pass grade for one of her essays, Ms. Tudball got behind her and tutored her in the skills of analytical writing. Through determined, focused effort, a willingness to take feedback on board, and lots of practise, Anne completed the year with a result of 99%. She went on to become the Dux of her graduating class. “It’s wonderful”, Anne says, “that skills are transferable from one field to another, and that learning rarely goes to waste.” Back then she never would have guessed that the thinking, perception and expression of understanding that analysis allows would be so critical to her work as a future artist, and that her ability to analyse and share insight would have its origins in a high school history class. 

Once again, Anne, congratulations on your stellar career to date, your many achievements and significant contributions to the contemporary artistic community, both in Australia and internationally. We are so proud of you and will continue to follow your career with keen interest.